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NHL Roundup : Pizza King Finally Sees Red Wings Deliver, 6-3

When pizza king Mike Ilitch spent almost $7 million to reconstruct the Detroit Red Wings, he thought he would surely have a winner.

At long last, he has. In their 10th game of the National Hockey League season, the Red Wings posted their first victory, 6-3, over the Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday night at Detroit.

Danny Gare had a hat trick and Czechoslovakian defector Petr Klima snapped a 3-3 tie with his third goal of the season to end the Red Wings’ eight-game losing streak. The losing streak began after the Red Wings opened the season with a 6-6 tie, blowing a four-goal lead against Minnesota in the last 14 minutes.

“We needed a win,” Coach Harry Neale, in an understatement, told the Associated Press. “The great thing about this business is that one win can sometimes clean out almost two weeks.”

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Not this time, coach.

Ilitch, owner of the Little Caesars Pizza chain in the Detroit area, gave General Manager Jimmy Devellano a blank check to build a team capable of challenging the best in the NHL.

First, Devellano signed three free agents--Warren Young, a 40-goal scorer as a rookie last season with Pittsburgh; Harold Snepts, veteran defenseman with Minnesota, and Mike McEwen, another veteran blueliner with Washington.

Next, he signed five coveted U.S. college stars, and, finally, he signed the 21-year-old Klima to a 10-year contract for $2.5 million.

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The Red Wings were not only 0-8-1 after nine games, but most of the defeats had not even been close. They had been outscored, 58-22.

Neale, who replaced Nick Polano after the Red Wings won only 27 of 80 games last season, said he thought a 10-1 drubbing by Minnesota on Oct. 17 caused the players to lose confidence in each other.

“We’re trying to get them to play and think at the same time,” he said. “That sometimes seems to be a real excessive target.

“I knew we could score goals, and maybe the first victory will bring us together as a team.”

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Gare, an 11-year veteran, is a highly respected right wing. But in the first nine games, he had only one goal. He scored three times in the first period.

But the Penguins rallied to tie early in the second period before Klima’s third goal of the season broke the tie with 65 seconds left in the period. Dwight Foster’s short-handed goal early in the final period clinched the Red Wings’ first victory.

Hartford 6, Quebec 4--Sylvain Turgeon and Ron Francis teamed up to score two goals just 2 minutes 11 seconds apart at Hartford to bring the Whalers from behind in the third period.

Turgeon scored both of them after getting passes from linemate Francis, and the Whalers went on to hand the Nordiques only their second loss in 11 games.

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Dale Hunter gave Quebec a 4-3 lead when he scored five seconds after the third-period faceoff.

Just before the two-minute mark, Francis worked his way in close to feed Turgeon on a power play. The next time the duo was on the ice, Francis set up Turgeon’s sixth goal of the season.

Edmonton 7, Winnipeg 3--Wayne Gretzky put on a dazzling show in the second period at Edmonton to shake the Oilers out of their lethargy.

Early in the period, he set up Mike Krushelnyski to break a 1-1 tie. Then, later in the period, in the span of 77 seconds, he assisted on three more goals, two of them by Jari Kurri. Gretzky’s passing enabled the Oilers to improve their record to 8-1.

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The Oilers avenged a 9-3 loss to the Jets last week at Winnipeg.

Philadelphia 5, Montreal 4--Brian Propp scored twice at Montreal, including the winning goal with 7:31 remaining as the Flyers battled from behind.

Just 65 seconds before Propp’s 10th goal of the season, Rich Sutter scored to get the Flyers even.

Calgary 4, Buffalo 2--Rookie goalie Marc D’Amour stopped 34 shots at Calgary in his second NHL start to gain his first victory. The Sabres had beaten Calgary eight times in a row.

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Chicago 6, Minnesota 5--Denis Savard scored on a 30-foot shot with just 2:16 remaining at Bloomington, Minn., to give the Black Hawks the victory.

The Black Hawks, 3-0 on the road, had to battle back after blowing a 4-1 lead in the second period. Goalie Murray Bannerman of the Black Hawks stopped 35 shots.

Vancouver 5, Toronto 3--The Canucks spotted the Maple Leafs a 2-0 lead at Vancouver, then came back to hand the Leafs their eighth loss in nine games.

Tony Tanti scored two goals, and Patrik Sundstrom had a goal and two assists to help the Canucks move into second place in the Smythe Division.

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